by Leah Osgood
I have been asked several times to share my story and to be honest, I always hesitate. To me, my story is getting pregnant at 19, going through a divorce in my mid 20s, remarried at 28, surprise twins at 30, spontaneously opening a boutique in my late 30s and the list goes on.
It has chapters dealing with decisions, growth and sleepless nights. It is filled with both sadness and joy.
And, although it mentions suicide, that is a chapter I tend to skim. It is the only chapter that I protected and one that I never felt comfortable telling 100%. But today, 19 years later, I am sharing my side of suicide. The pain, the tears, and the wondering whys.
I remember April 19, 1998, like it was yesterday
From the black cat darting in front of my mother-in-law’s car on the way to celebrate the upcoming nuptials of Kelly and Paul to the thoughts that raced through my mind as I walked home from the Huddleston’s that evening.
It was a day filled with uneasiness, heartache and uncontrollable tears. And, to this day, I can still say that dreary, rainy Sunday is the worst day of my life.
That Sunday, my life changed forever. My brother, Brett Marshall Hunter, died by suicide.
Suicide was a word you did not hear often back then and one that I never thought I would associate with my family. But, I was wrong. That Sunday, I heard that taboo word come out of my aunt’s mouth as she looked at me with tears in her eyes.
What had she said? My brother died by suicide?!? No way. This had to be a joke, a misunderstanding or maybe a bad dream. He just got home from his senior spring break. He was the family favorite. The life of the party. Is she sure? Where is my mom? My dad? How? Why? OMG, this can’t be happening.
But, the nightmare had just begun
The rest of the day was a whirlwind of events I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I stood there in shock and silence as my mom walked into my aunt’s and was told the horrific news. I witnessed the heartbreak as she fell to the floor and I immediately knew she would never be the same. None of us would.
How would we survive this?
I survived that day and the week ahead, by trying not to leave my mom’s side. I went to the hospital with her because she needed to see his body and to say goodbye.
I went to my dad’s with her and tried hard not to stare at the place where the carpet had been removed. Thoughts racing through my head as I patiently sat there wanting to leave. I went to the Huddleston’s house with her to see all of Brett’s friends and I remember thinking he would walk in any minute and then getting angry when he didn’t. And, I went to the cemetery with her to pick out his plot. This is what I did to survive. And, I know I did it more for me than for my mom. I did not want to be alone.
As only my mom could do, the visitation, program and funeral were perfect given the circumstances. From the casket that people were able sign. To it being open so that people could drop in gifts and say their goodbyes. To my ex-husband singing “Friends are Friends Forever.” To balloons being released at the gravesite. She made sure these two days were for everyone but her. Two days that hundreds attended and will never forget.
The days, weeks, and months following death are always the hardest. Especially with suicide.
For months I went to the cemetery every single day. I was lost, I was in pain and I was alone.
My friends didn’t know what to say, so they stayed away. And, my family was also mourning so how could I burden them with my feelings? It sucked.
Death should bring people closer, but in this case, it was tearing us apart. We all lost someone we loved. We all felt guilty. We all had unanswered questions. We all were struggling. And, we all were dealing with it differently.
Nineteen years later and I still feel empty. Time does not heal all wounds.
I may not visit the cemetery as often, but all the questions are still there and the pain and heartache have not gone away.
Suicide has changed me
I parent a little different, I am a little more reserved, and I care a lot more. It’s a chapter that has lead to so many other chapters of my story. It is also a chapter that haunts me, a chapter that helped define me, a chapter that has left me vulnerable and a chapter that people judge.
It is not a pretty a chapter. But, it is one that needs to be written. One that I hope people read. And one that I hope will help someone.
For suicide kills the entire family…..no one survives without damage.